The Bugwood Network

Propagation and Care of Leyland Cypress as Christmas Trees

Site Preparation

To achieve rapid and consistent growth, locate plantations on sites with adequate drainage and preferably loamy soils. Avoid dry sandy soils unless irrigation can be provided, and poorly drained soils. While Leyland cypress will tolerate partial shade, keep transplants at least 70 feet from large trees along field borders.

It is important to start with a weed free planting site. On sites with a heavy grass sod, broadcast spray a contact herbicide over the field in late summer of the year prior to outplanting. If soil erosion is a concern, lay out planting rows on the contour and apply the herbicide in a 4 to 5 foot band over the intended planting rows. The grass left in the row middles will reduce soil erosion and can be controlled by mowing. A spacing of 7 X 7 feet (888 trees per acre) will allow ample room for uniform tree growth and permit use of a small tractor for mowing.

Check the field for a traffic pan or hardpan, a compacted layer within the soil profile. This is a common problem on sites that have been in cultivation, grazed, or eroded. The compacted layer restricts root growth, and with the limited available rooting volume, seedlings are more susceptible to drought stress. The compacted layer can be broken up by subsoiling along the intended planting row. Subsoiling should be done in late summer or early fall when soils are dry to achieve maximum benefit. Avoid subsoiling if soils are wet. Complete all disking and harrowing operations before subsoiling.

Soil test in the fall to allow incorporation of preplant fertilizers and lime as required (check with your County Extension Agent) during site preparation. DO NOT fertilize without recommendations based on a soil test. Soil phosphorus levels of 50 pounds per acre and potassium levels of 100 pounds per acre are adequate. A soil pH of 5.5 to 6.0 is ideal.

To outplant the trees, dig a hole twice as large as the seedling container. Place the transplant carefully in the hole and pack soil firmly around the root system, eliminating all air pockets. Poorly packed soil around the root system is a common cause of transplant death. After transplanting, keep the planting row weed free with application of appropriate herbicides and mow the row middles.

Leyland respond well to periodic fertilization, especially on sandy soils. A 18-6-10 + minors fertilizer formulation has been used by many growers in the state. Slow-release formulations providing nutrient release over a 3 to 4 month period are preferred. For most applications, apply approximately 1 tablespoon of fertilizer per foot of tree height in March and again in late June to July. Place the fertilizer beneath the drip line of the tree crown, and be sure that herbaceous weeds and grasses are controlled around the trees.

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Last updated on Tuesday, December 03, 2002 at 12:24 PM
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